by Mike Knaak
Clear thinking, confidence, quick reactions. Sartell High School’s Mock Trial team put these skills to the test as they competed in the state tournament March 3 and 4.
To prepare for the tournament, team members read and memorize a 90-page document outlining a case based on actual civil or criminal court action. This year’s case involves a civil lawsuit after a wedding venue canceled a couple’s event because of COVID-19 restrictions. The couple sued to get their deposit refunded.
Because of continuing COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s 16-team contest took place via Zoom instead of in a courtroom. But real judges still presided. Team members fill the roles of attorneys and witnesses on both sides of the case.
Sartell finished 14th in the 16-team tournament. The team won one case and lost two with losses to last year’s champion and this year’s champion. Madison Benson was selected as an All-State Attorney and Camryn Sharpe was selected All-State Witness.
“Mock trial is a good experience to work on public speaking and get to know people,” team member Kristi Ross said. Ross, a junior, said because of the Mock Trial experience, she’s more “comfortable in front of adults and peers.”
Junior Emma Arneson said “thinking on your feet is the skill you need.” Added Ross, you have “to react on the spot.”
In addition to developing those skills, Arneson described the team as a “close-knit family of positive people.” She hopes the contacts she makes will lead to internships while Ross said the mock trial experience “is the reason I’ve thought about government administration and politics.”
Sartell’s team went to the state tournament three of the past five years.
The team’s advisor is Nate Dahl, an attorney with Meshbesher & Spence.
Arneson is the daughter of Mike and Elizabeth Arneson. Ross is the daughter of John and Otgontuya Ross.